Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dangerously Addictive Mini-Cookies, or How My Freezer Failed Me

Well it appears that I've taken a little vacation from blogging over the past few days. Maybe it's the whole July 4th atmosphere that has kept me away from the computer for the past week or so, but in any case, I really don't have much of an excuse. Since I don't start my "real job" until September, and most of my days are spent doing yoga, cooking, writing, and just generally enjoying myself, my claiming a "vacation" is like Tiger Woods claiming he needs a day off to squeeze in 9 holes.

But don't get me wrong - I haven't just been blobbing out in front of the TV (except for yesterday, when I couldn't resist watching the entire Wimbledon final). I've been doing plenty of cooking and barbecue-attending, too. In fact, I did a whole bunch of cooking for our July 4th get-together. For the party, I made a gigantic bowl of sangria with lots and lots of diced fresh fruit, some comfortingly simple chocolate chip cookies, an overtly patriotic mish-mash of lemon buttermilk cake, whipped cream, and fresh berries, and, to round it all out, a batch of almond butter-chocolate chip mini-cookies.

The batch of mini-cookies, however, was not the first batch of mini-cookies I made last week. In fact, it wasn't even the second batch. Indeed, it was the third batch of mini-cookies of the week, which should explain the whole "dangerously addictive" bit in the title of this post. To my credit, the batches are pretty small...but, frankly, I ate a whole lot of cookies, and there isn't much of a way around that. Luckily they're quite healthy. More like little snacky bites than cookies, really.

After making my fruit cobbler, which used almond butter in the biscuit crust, I was itching to bake some other goodies using almond butter. Now, I don't dislike peanut butter, but I think almond butter has a much richer, almost floral flavor that far surpasses that of peanut butter. It may cost three times as much, but it's worth it. And the fresh stuff that you can get ground on the spot? I can't get enough.

I find peanut butter cookies to be much too peanut-buttery for me, but in these cookies, the almond butter is not overpowering, and blends well with the honey and chocolate to create a subtle, yet flavorful richness. Besides, these aren't heavy at all; they're probably more akin to a granola bar-type of snack than a regular, super-sweet cookie. Chocolate never hurts, though.

I made my first batch of these cookies with the noble intention of snagging a few from the baking sheet fresh out of the oven, and then bundling the rest up in the freezer so that they'd stick around for a few days. That's usually my strategy with muffins - I wrap them individually, stick them in the freezer, and then take one or two out the night before I want to eat them so that they can thaw. This both a) preserves my muffins and b) prevents me from eating 5 at a time.

Thinking I had outsmarted my will-to-eat-cookies, I stuck these in the freezer, only to discover a few hours later that these cookies can be eaten directly out of the freezer, with no thawing time necessary. In fact, they taste almost better from the freezer - nice and crunchy. Needless to say, my plan for elongating the life of the first batch, and then of the second, didn't exactly work. Freezers suck, but whatever. Given all of the sugar and other junk that is in snack foods we usually think of as "healthy" - granola bars, crackers, and energy-type foods all come to mind - snacking on cookies like these is really a pretty good option.

A note about the recipe: I made these by heating the almond butter and honey together, to make the dough a little less unruly. When I added the chocolate to the dough, some of it melted, creating streaky bits of chocolate throughout. I like it this way, but if you want more defined chips, allow the dough to cool before adding the chopped chocolate.

Almond Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 c. chunky, fresh almond butter
1/4 c. honey
2 tbs. turbinado sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

In a small saucepan, mix honey, almond butter, and sugar, and heat until thin and well-combined. Add vanilla extract and remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly, and then add the egg, mixing until combined. In a separate bowl, mix flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add almond butter mixture to dry ingredients, and mix to form a dough. Add chopped chocolate and stir to combine. Drop dough by the teaspoon onto a greased, foil-lined cookie sheet, and bake at 375 F until browned on the bottom, about 8-10 minutes. Store in the freezer, if desired.

1 comment:

Heather Schultz said...

Hi Mia. My name is Heather Schultz and I used to live in Westford. I am Erin's Mom and Julie is my good friend. When I was visiting a couple wks ago your Mom told me about your blog. I have made the stuffed zucchini and I'm on my second time with the cookies - YUM! I added about a third cup of cocoa in with the flour (I used quinoa flour, seems to be the same) and used sunspire choc. chips. ABSOLUTELY Delicious recipe! Thanks and best of luck in school! I love your blog!